When you write a rhetorical analysis, you’re recording and organizing the observations you made when reading the text critically. Below is a set of guidelines devised to help you organize the thoughts from your critical reading process. The guidelines detail the aspects of the text you might consider discussing, and they offer you some direction in terms of organizing your paper. Remember that you do not have to cover all of these aspects when writing a formal rhetorical analysis. Most importantly, remember that your instructor may have specific guidelines that she or he needs you to follow that may differ from the suggestions here.
As you create your analysis, remember that there are certain writing conventions to follow, no matter what guidelines you are given for the content of the analysis. Those conventions include:
Your instructor may have more specific conventions for you to follow in a specific project, so always double-check your assignment sheet.
Your Title: The title of your essay is the first point of contact you have with your reader. What sort of title would describe your paper and distinguish it from other papers written on the same essay? Please see the section “Effective Titles” for a detailed discussion on creating titles.
Your Introduction: Detailing the Rhetorical Situation
In your introduction, you will need to do three main things: capture readers’ attention, give readers any background information they will need in order to understand your thesis and the body of your paper, and present your thesis. Remember that your thesis statement needs to clearly communicate the main idea of your piece of writing, and it needs to let readers know what to expect in terms of mode – the thesis should let readers know if the paper will be persuasive, informative, or analytical, for example.
Your Essay's Body: Discussing the Content of the Text
In this portion of the body of the essay, remember to use specific examples from the original source to back up the observations you present. You may not need to quote these examples directly, but you will need to point readers to portions of the text or assertions made by the author in order to support your ideas and show that your analysis is strong.
Your Essay's Body: Discussing the Style of the Text
In this portion of the body, you will need to use some direct quotes from the text to support your analysis of the style. When choosing your quotes, be sure that you have chosen them based on how well they illustrate the points you are making, as opposed to basing your choice on whether you like the content of the quote or its length.
Use your conclusion to comment on the effect and effectiveness of the essay as a whole. How well does the writer achieve the purpose, appeal to the audience, and demonstrate the effect of style on content?